Area of Law: Criminal Records
Answer # 2137
Who can access youth criminal records?Region: Ontario Answer # 2137
No one can access a youth criminal record (even before the non-disclosure date has been reached) unless they are specifically authorized under the YCJA or have obtained the young person’s written consent. Actually under the YCJA, many departments, agencies, and individuals can easily obtain and transfer a copy of the youth criminal record. For example, the YCJA allows the following persons (among others) to access a youth’s criminal record upon request:
- The youth
- The youth’s parents or guardian
- The youth’s legal counsel
- Any judge, court, review board
- Any peace officer for law enforcement purposes
- The victim
- Corrections staff
- Extrajudicial sanctions staff
- The Attorney General of Canada
- Government staff engaged in the supervision or care of the youth
- A government of Canada employee, for statistical purposes
- Any person who carries out criminal record checks that are mandatory for performing services or employment
- USA Immigration
Certain authorized persons, including the Attorney General of Canada, youth workers, peace officers, and other persons engaged in the provision of services to young persons, can even disclose the criminal record to the youth’s school. This is allowed even though the YCJA states that in order for the record to be disclosed to a school, reintegration leave (whereby a young person can leave a youth-custody facility to be reintegrated into the community) has to have occurred. This type of decision is not determined in a court. It is made by those departments, agencies, and individuals who have been involved in some way with providing services to the young person while he or she was in the criminal justice system. Since so many government offices and boards participate in the youth criminal justice system, it means that the decision of when and to whom the youth’s criminal record will be disclosed can be made by many different individuals, using different criteria.
In addition, those not specifically authorized under the YCJA can still ask the court for access to a youth criminal record on the basis that they have a valid interest in the record. The judge can grant access to that person if it is desirable in the public interest for research or statistical purposes or desirable in the interest of the proper administration of justice. In such cases, having the request reviewed by a judge at least guarantees that the youth has an opportunity to oppose the request, and that the information-seeker must present a valid reason as to why they need the record and assurances as to safeguarding the information if the request is granted.
Although there are rules about how youth criminal records are to be maintained and provisions to help protect the youth’s privacy, the records are still accessible to many people and can obstruct the youth’s future. For more information on removing a youth criminal record, refer to How are youth criminal records sealed or destroyed?
If you have been charged with a criminal offence, refer to our criminal law section.
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